Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Smith Targets Strong Start To 2009 Season

Moses Smith (16) finished fifth a year ago in the spring event at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., and notched another top-five finish when he returned to the historic Northern California track in October for the season finale. Terry Thomson/NASCAR

As Moses Smith (No. 16 HASA Pool Products/White Flyer Toyota) enters his third full season of competition in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, he has steadily advanced in becoming a contender on the stock car racing circuit. After closing out last season with a best-ever third-place finish – the Tempe, Ariz., driver topped that by launching his 2009 campaign with a runner-up finish.

Smith hopes to keep his momentum rolling as the series heads to All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., for the Toyota/NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 on Saturday, April 4.

The historic fairgrounds track has quickly become a popular venue for Smith, who registered top-five finishes in both events there last year. “Roseville seems to work for us,” he said. “We’re definitely excited to go back there. I finished third there at the end of last year. It would be nice to move up on the podium.”

Coming off a second-place finish in the season opener at Thunderhill Raceway in Texas, Smith acknowledged that following that up with another strong performance would be a great way to start the year. “If I can duplicate the second-place I had in Texas, that would be awesome,” he said.

Smith, who celebrates his 33rd birthday on Monday (March 30), credits a variety of reasons for his recent success. “I don’t know if I could pick one thing to sum it up,” he said. “I’ve been trying to learn from guys in the series like Mike David and Eric Holmes, guys that just know what it takes to get it done. I’ve been trying to learn from those guys and work with my new crew chief Mario Isola. Things are really coming together – between all those people, my teammates and fellow competitors. Everybody’s been kind of helping me along. I can’t just attribute it to one thing.”

Smith credits the scheduling of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in late January with helping him stay sharp in the off season and helping him carry his momentum from one season to the next.

“It kept us busy and kept our minds in the game,” Smith said.

As he prepares to return to Roseville, a tight .333-mile oval known for a lot of contact, Smith knows it will require plenty of patience to get a good finish.

“Last year, we just tried to be patient for as much of the race as we could and tried to save our equipment for the last 25 to 40 laps,” he said. “I think that’s what it takes. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment early on in the race and tear your equipment up. I think you’ve just got to be patient and stay competitive, but make sure you save your equipment.”

That approach differs from the strategy used in open-wheel formula racing, where Smith competed prior to coming to the NASCAR Camping World Series.

“The formula car racing was real similar to some of the late model stuff, where you only have 50 laps to get the job done,” he explained. “It took me a while to kind of get used to taking my time.”

As he returns for his third year in the series, all with Bill McAnally Racing, Smith’s passion for stock car racing remains as strong as ever. “I’ll tell you, I still love driving formula cars, but you can’t beat this racing,” he said. “Racing a stock car in the West Series is just second to none. The racing is so tight and so intense. I’m really digging it.”

While he is optimistic about his chances at Roseville, Smith declines to offer a prediction for the event.

“I try not to predict too much stuff,” he said. “Once you start planning too far out, you get kind of mixed up once you get there. We left off well there last year, so I’m expecting we’ll pick up where we left off. I’m expecting a good run.”


Firecracker! said...

Hi 'z',

Been really busy and just now getting caught up!!

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the 'interview articles' that you do with Moses!

I do hear from him from time to time...but I am always anxious to hear more.

Good read! :)

Firecracker! ;)

NASCAR Race Mom said...

Thanks Firecracker - Looking forward to this weekend.